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J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Feb;60(1):1-8.

Which extractant should be used for the screening and isolation of antimicrobial components from plants?

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Pretoria, South Africa.


Freeze dried and finely ground leaves of two plants with known antimicrobial activity, Anthocleista grandiflora and Combretum erythrophyllum were extracted with acetone, ethanol, methanol, methylenedichloride, methanol/chloroform/water and water at a 1 to 10 ratio in each case. The quantity and diversity of compounds extracted, number of inhibitors extracted, rate of extraction, toxicity in a bioassay, ease of removal of solvent and biological hazard were evaluated for each extractant. An arbitrary scoring system was developed to evaluate the above parameters for the different extractants. Acetone gave the best results with these plants with an arbitrary value of 102 followed by methanol/chloroform/water (81), methylene dichloride (79), methanol (71), ethanol (58) and water (47). Four five minute sequential extractions of very finely ground A. grandiflora shaking at a high rate extracted 97% of the total antimicrobial activity.

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